Thursday, 11 August 2011


I'm off on my holidays soon, so this blog will be quiet for a while.  I just wanted to let you know what we had coming up at the club over the next few weeks.

22 August 2011 - Chess lecture

We are lucky enough to secure the services of the excellent Norman Stephenson to deliver one of his chess lectures.  Norman prepares his lectures carefully and presents them by playing through famous grandmaster games and his own games.  An example below from his "Interplay of strategy and tactics".

Norman took the audience through the ideas behind the moves, hidden tactics and overall strategies.  Norman has had years of teaching experience and presents these lectures in an enjoyable and informal fashion.

The lecture is free, so if you can make it, kick off is at 19:15.

29 August 2011 - Bank holiday.
The club is open, but is usually quiet.

5 September 2011 - Club's AGM
The club's members meet to discuss the topics on the agenda.  There is usually time for a game of chess afterwards.

12 September - Junior club
Yes its the return of the kids!  All ages and abilities welcome.

Whet your appetite before the lecture.  Be assured Norman's commentary turns these games into front row entertainment, he should be on TV, he really is that good.  No he's better...  

Monday, 1 August 2011

Out and about - The British

The annual British chess championship is the highlight of the chess year for many chess fans in the UK.  The tournament moves around the different regions and countries of the UK.  This year the tournament was held in Sheffield at the Ponds Forge leisure complex.

The Ponds is a short walk from the train station and is a huge complex.  The main chess events were held in a giant sports hall, that was well ventilated and nice and light.  Lets take a look inside.

The games are played in normal tournament style i.e. rows of tables with several boards side by side.  There was plenty of space between the tables and each player had enough room to record their moves and store drinks etc.  At the front of the hall were the 6 top boards.  Boards 1-4 also included a wide screen monitor displaying the moves as they were played.

I went down to the event on day five which was Friday 29th July.

Board 1 Was Nigel Short V David Howell.  I was a little star struck when Nigel came in.  Nigel is such a big name in chess, remember the world championships in the early 90s in London?  Nigel chatted to a few people before the round started and posed for a couple of pictures with youngsters.  Below Nigel waits for the start of the round.

Board 2 was Michael "Mickey" Adams V Garwain Jones.
 Board 3 Gordon V Hunt, no picture.

Board 4 Peter Wells V Jovanka Houska.  I was pleased to see Jovanka on the top boards, as she will be a great inspiration to the girls at our club.  Below a picture of me watching the games (stripy top), with Peter and Jovanka getting in the way.  I suppose they are the stars!
There I am again!

Board 5 Griffiths V Pert no picture.
Board 6 Jonathan "The Hawk" Hawkins V Jack Rudd.

 Johnny's game wasn't on a monitor, so I tried to get as close as I could to watch without being intrusive, as there was a clear space between the audience and the top boards.  I will have a look at this game later.

Play started at 14:15 and from 15:00 Andy Martin hosted an entertaining analysis sessions, where he discussed the top games as they happened.

Andy attempted to explain the players thinking, possible continuations and provided his assessments of the games.  When a game reached an interesting position he would hold a guess the next move competition, where a book could be won.  For example can you find Black's next move in the following?

Answers at the end.  Andy also required a brief explanation of why, so be prepared if you guess the move without the reason I will dock some points.

Hawkins, J V Rudd,J
Johnny is a hero in the North East.  His improvement from young major player to international master is astounding, but a testament to the two pillars of success, hard work and talent.
1.Nf3 Richard Palliser writes in his "beating unusual chess openings", 'For the club player 1.Nf3 usually heralds either a King's Indian Attack (KIA) or a Reti,but things are somewhat different at higher-rated levels.  There fiendish White players often employ 1.Nf3 with the aim of transposing to certain d4 openings while avoiding others.'
So far Johnny has opened 1.e4, 1.d4 and here 1.Nf3.  At the very highest level the top players need a broad repertoire otherwise players will prepare vigorously for their pet lines.   
1...Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.g3 b6 4.Bg2 Bb7 5.d4 As predicted we have a d4 opening, a Queen's Indian.

Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Be7 These type of moves look like a wast of time, but Black would argue that White's bishop is not well placed on d2.
7.Nc3 0-0 8.0-0 c5 9.d5 White plays to open the centre and use tactics on the long diagonal to reposition his pieces. 9...exd5 10.Nh4 Re811.Nf5 now White has a well placed knight eyeing Black's bishop and his bishop on g2 exerts pressure right along the h1-a8 diagonal.  Note although a pawn down, I'm sure White is more than able to regain the pawn on d5.

 Bf8 12.Bg5 h6 - Things are looking tricky.

13.Nxd5 Bxd5 14.Bxd5 Nc6 Now White heads towards an ending after inflicting some structural damage to Black's pawns.15.Bxc6 dxc6 16.Qxd8 Raxd8 17.Nxh6+ gxh6 18.Bxf6Rd6 19.Bc3 Rxe2 Does White have enough to win here?  I would asses this as a small plus for White, but with plenty to do.  Johnny shows that to be a top player its not all just opening prep, but excellent endgame skill is also required.

20.Rfe1 Rc2 21.Re8 b5 22.cxb5 cxb5 23.Rc8 Rb6 - Probably a mistake, as the plan Re6-Re2 would see Black having doubled rooks on the second rank, which is often enough to make a draw. 24.Rd1 Black's bishop is in mortal danger.  Black stares defeat squarely in the eye.  Can you find a move?

 24...Rxc3 What else is there?  White has numerous ways to win the bishop otherwise.  Unfortunately for Black I would say he is dead lost here, but fights on for a few moves to make sure.25.bxc3 Kg7 26.Rc7 a527.Rdd7 Rf6 28.Ra7 b4 29.c4 1-0
Remember Jack Rudd is a strong player himself with an IM title.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day at the British.  You can reply, or download all the games at and also check out Andy Martin's excellent game of the day at

Guess the move
Did you want to play Nh5?  This clever move by Black will be followed by Nf4 establishing a strong knight on f4 and if White doesn't want to swap a bishop for a knight he needs to vacate the e2 and d3 squares.  Award yourself 5 points.